Significance of the Bishwa Ijtema

:: Staff Correspondent ::

The Bishwa Ijtema (Meaning Global Congregation) is an annual gathering of Muslims devotees, “Tablig Jamaat’ in Tongi, by the banks of the River Turag, in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. It is the second largest Islamic congregation after the Hajj. It is one of the largest peaceful gatherings in the world.  More than 150mn people of the 213th countries in the world are with this Jamaat who has no any official website, Televisions, Advertisement and even not any governmental fund.

The Ijtema is non-political and therefore it draws people of all persuasion. The majority of its devotees come from across Bangladesh, the world’s third largest Muslim majority country. Activists of Tablig Jamaat are working to animate Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) following the way of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Sahabi (May Allah be pleased with him) (Companions of the Prophet (pbuh)). Only by the grace of Almighty Allah, the job is continuing across the world, it couldn’t be possible without the help of Almighty Allah.

The Ijtema is a prayer meeting spread over three days, during which attending devotees perform daily prayers while listening to scholars reciting and explaining verses from the Quran. It culminates in the Akheri Munajat, or the Final Prayer, in which millions of devotees raise their hands in front of Allah (God) and pray for world peace. The Ijtema is considered a demonstration of Muslim unity, solidarity, mutual love and respect and an opportunity to reiterate their commitment to Islamic values.

The Tablighi Jamaat was founded in the late 1920s by the well known scholar Maulana Ilyas [Maulana Muhammad Ilyas Kandhelvi] in the Mewat province of India. The inspiration for devoting his life to Islam came to Ilyas during his second pilgrimage to the Hejaz in 1926. Maulana Ilyas put forward the slogan, ‘Come O Muslims! Be Muslims’. This expressed the central focus of Tablighi Jamat, which has been renewing Muslim society by renewing Muslim practice in those it feels have lost their desire to devote themselves to Allah and the Islamic prophet, Muhammad.

Maulana Ilyas was a prominent member of the movement and throughout Tabligh’s history there has been a degree of association between scholars of Deoband and Tablighi Jamat. Tabligh was formed at a time in India when some Muslim leaders feared that Indian Muslims were losing their Muslim identity to the majority Hindu culture.

In 1978, construction of the Tablighi mosque in Dewsbury, England commenced. Subsequently, the mosque became the European headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat. Ameer or Zimmadar are titles of leadership in the movement. The first Ameer, also the founder, was Maulana Ilyas [1885-1944], second was his son Maulana Muhammad Yusuf Kandhalawi and the third was Maulana Inaam ul Hasan. Now there is a shura which includes two leaders: Maulana Zubair ul Hasan and Maulana Saad Kandhalawi. In Pakistan the duties of the Ameer are being served by Haji Abdulwahhab. Maulana Muhammad Zakariya al-Kandahlawi is also among the prestigious personalities of the Jamaat, as he compiled the famous book Fazail-e-Amal.

The first ijtema is believed to have been held in 1949 as a congregation for Tablighi Jamaat, or TJ, Muslims. The TJ movement – a branch of Sunni Islam—kicked off in 1927.  The Bengali Tabhlighi Jamaat movement started in Dhaka, East Bengal during the 1950s. The first Ijtemas were organized in Chittagong (1954) and Narayanganj (1958), followed by Ijtemas at the Ramna Race Course in Dhaka in 1960, 1962 and 1965. Due to the increasing rate of participants, the government of East Pakistan allowed organizers to schedule the event annually by the River Turag in 1967. Later, the government of Bangladesh allotted 160 acres of land for exclusively holding the event.

The Jama`at was 1st conceived by Maulana Muhammad Ilyas, a pious, learned religious leader based in Delhi, who died in 1944. The principal behind Tabligh function was that all Muslims could educate fellow Muslims key Islamic values and practices and the system of instructing other folks would support the teachers master and perfect their own practices. Consequently, by going out to offer you guidance to other Muslims, any sincere Muslim could, in impact, undertake what had heretofore been the province of men distinguished by education, saintly achievement, and, frequently, notable birth.

The central characteristic on the Tabligh motion is definitely the tour, which includes a jama`at, or celebration, of about ten men who travel to proselytize either for an evening, a number of days, or even a prolonged journey. Undertaking the tour occasions a radical break with all normal enmeshments, including the intense face-to-face obligations and hierarchies of household and function normal of every day interaction. This break, Maulana Ilyas believed, would transform the proselytizer greater than the audience because the journey, with its attendant duties, inculcates a modest and humble disposition–a disposition of which prayer is definitely an essential aspect, considering that it renders a Muslim humble just before God.Given that proselytization is actually a situation in which every participant continually dangers rebuff, it is actually meant to further instill humility in him. In this sense, travel is believed to encourage a state of long term vulnerability and uncertainty in which one learns to be dependent on God, outside of one’s normal moorings.

Past these efforts, a range of practices fosters a leveling of socio-economic standing amongst the participants, a leveling modified in principle only by degrees of fidelity and faith. Within a society wherever dress is often a clear marker of standing and particularistic identities, for example, all Tablighis alike dress in easy garments. Within a society in which any speech act may betray hierarchic gaps of economic and educational standing (over all, that of English and vernaculars, and among the vernaculars, between elegant Urdu and uncomplicated language), all Tablighi Jama`at members cultivate straightforward language. Similarly, in comparison to the common attitude of seeking down on manual activity, every person on a tour carries his personal bag and performs the most menial tasks.

The event is organized in January by the Bangladeshi chapter of the Tablighi Jamaat. An extensive tent is created in the area with the help of the Government of Bangladesh. Transport is provided by state-run companies, including Biman Bangladesh Airlines, the Bangladesh Railway and the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BTRC). The Bangladesh Armed Forces assists by arranging infrastructure. Despite the large number of devotees living within a confined space, generally there are very few problems of sanitation, cooking, and internal movements. It is believed to be possible because of the minimalist approach adopted by the devotees. Devotees reduce their own requirements and develop a respect for others’ requirements. During the Final Prayer, huge crowds stretch from the Ijtema ground in Tongi into the Dhaka metropolitan area. Schools and offices are declared closed on the occasion.

Due to increasing overcrowding, the Ijtema was divided into two segments with an interval of seven days from 2010. The first phase is allowed for devotees from 32 designated Bangladeshi districts. The second phase allows devotees from the remaining districts of the country. Foreign devotees are allowed in both phases.

Due to increasing overcrowding, the Ijtema was divided into four segments from 2015. The first phase is allowed for devotees from 16 designated Bangladeshi districts. The second phase allows devotees from another 16 designated Bangladeshi districts. Devotees from the remaining 32 districts of the countrywill join next year.

People from all walks of life throngs at Tongi on the last day of Ijtema. Government declares optional leave on the day.  People from all walks of lives partake to make the Ijtema success willingly. By the grace of Alllah , Everything be finished within due time with sensation, Alhamdulillah. May Almighty Allah grace us to be aligned with this Mobarok, Mehnot. Ameen.

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